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New study sheds light on identifying, treating cardiac condition

There's a new heart study shedding light on a genetic condition that often impacts young athletes. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There's a new heart study shedding light on a genetic condition that often impacts young athletes.

The team at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Heart and Vascular Center talked to Local 12 about a study from the European Heart Journal released Wednesday.

They looked at information from a huge data bank that tracked people with a condition called cardiomyopathy for years.

"It is a disorder of the heart muscle that is intrinsic to the structure and function of the heart," said cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Mohamad Sinno.

Dr. Sinno specializes in this disorder. He says as it gets worse, patients often need emergency care. The heart becomes enlarged, thick or rigid and can't pump blood through the body.

But in this study, "they found that 40 percent of them would have an inherited disorder," said Dr. Sinno. "They also found that those patients are at risk of having arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac deaths."

Sometimes we only hear about it when an athlete has a cardiac event on the court and passes out. But now, Dr. Sinno says this shows genetic testing might tell us who is at risk.

Part of what this does, he says, is this information now invites a new conversation: If this is in your family, should you have genetic testing, genetic counseling, follow-up treatment and care?

"So patients who have a cardiomyopathy, if you identify two or more patients in the same family who have the cardiomyopathy, then you need to shift thought process to say this patient might have an inherited disorder, and at that point, you should initiate family screening," said Dr. Sinno.

That family screening involves interviews, sometimes blood tests and sometimes electrical heart tests.

While it's not cost effective to screen the general population, this could help narrow it down and prevent those deaths in young people in a way we never have before.

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